Minor Thoughts from me to you

More Medicare Fraud

How is this not illegal? Select Hospitals Reap a Windfall Under Child Bill - New York Times

Despite promises by Congress to end the secrecy of earmarks and other pet projects, the House of Representatives has quietly funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to specific hospitals and health care providers under a bill passed this month to help low-income children.

... One hospital, Bay Area Medical Center, sits on Green Bay, straddling the border between Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, more than 200 miles north of Chicago. The bill would increase Medicare payments to the hospital by instructing federal officials to assume that it was in Chicago, where Medicare rates are set to cover substantially higher wages for hospital workers.

The bill, for example, would give special treatment to two hospitals in Kingston, N.Y., stipulating that Medicare should pay them as if they were in New York City, 80 miles away. Representative Maurice D. Hinchey, Democrat of New York, who worked to get this provision into the bill, said it would allow the hospitals to pay competitive wages so they could keep top health care professionals.

John E. Finch Jr., a vice president of Benedictine Hospital, one of the two in Kingston, said the bill would "make a significant difference to us financially," increasing the payment for a typical Medicare case by $1,000.

Republicans sometimes did the same thing when they controlled Congress. Under a 1999 law, for example, a small hospital in rural Dixon, Ill., was deemed to be in the Chicago area "” 95 miles away "” at the behest of its congressman, J. Dennis Hastert, who was then speaker.

This is outright fraud. No matter how hard hospital administrators pretend different, these hospitals are not in New York City or Chicago. The hospitals will be taking money that the law says they're not entitled to. That's wrong. Any doctor trying to defraud Medicare out of that much money would be stripped of his license, find, and probably jailed. Why should these Congress men and women be treated any differently?